J.D. in College Meaning

Most states require you to earn a juris doctor degree, abbreviated J.D., to practice law. To earn the degree, you must complete a legal course of study at an accredited law school. A juris doctor degree (JD degree) also may qualify you for a range of law enforcement careers, as well as careers in legal publishing and research. Law students wishing to pursue legal professions will work toward their JD degree for a Master of Laws (a master’s degree), a Bachelor of Laws, or a Doctor of Jurisprudence (or professional Doctorate degree), Doctor of Laws and other graduate degrees in law. Students can also study career paths in constitutional law, legal practice, legal studies, torts, the American legal system, American law, civil procedure, international law, legal research, healthcare law, or other needs to be a practicing attorney. Law students also tend to study business in some cases, leading to a Master of Business Administration possibly. Harvard Law School is one of the most prestigious options for law in the United States.

J.D. Courses

Typically, it takes three years of study to complete a juris doctor degree program (or JD program), although accelerated programs exist that shorten the course of study. The courses you take to earn the degree vary among law schools, but most will likely include constitutional, tax, contract and wills and trust law. You'll also take courses in criminal, civil and corporate law. Depending on the juris doctor program and your desired area of practice, you may be encouraged to specialize in a field that interests you, such as criminal law, environmental law, sports and entertainment law or civil rights law for full-time and part-time career work. Admission requirements can vary depending on the school, so pay attention to the needs of your degree plan. While most law degrees require more than four years of schooling, a lot of progress can be made in a student’s first year coursework.


Some law schools are part of larger university systems, while others are stand-alone institutions. In the United States, you must have earned a bachelor's degree to attend law school for a law degree. You also must take the Law School Admissions Test, commonly referred to as the LSAT. Generally, the more competitive the law school, the higher grade point average and LSAT scores you'll need to get in. Although law school rankings sometimes influence where students apply, the American Bar Association does not endorse the practice of ranking law schools, according to information published on the ABA's website. Still, your law school must be ABA accredited, and you must complete your J.D. course of study to sit for the bar exam in legal education. Other law schools also recognize state bar exams for their completion of study needs in the area of law and in their colleges of law and school of law needs. These professional degrees do have many prerequisites depending on the law area, as well as plans for J.D. students to enter law firms post graduation. The LSAC is a great place to look for resources in school of law needs, as they will offer GPA and course information.

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